Scientology pushed back on copyright

Originally posted 2007-08-02 19:52:30. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Scientology seems to do a lot better with the Internal Revenue Code than with the Copyright Act:

A Colorado nonprofit group has won a critical round in a legal fight against the Church of Scientology, raising questions about whether Scientology has a legal right to keep hundreds of documents offline and out of the public eye.The church, through its nonprofit subsidiary Bridge Publications, is suing Boulder-based FACTNet on charges that the group pirated more than 1,900 copyrighted church documents and distributing them on CD-ROMs.

But FACTNet and its cofounder, former Scientology member Lawrence Wollersheim, contend that Bridge does not have legal copyrights to all–and possibly to any–of the documents in question.

In a ruling last Wednesday, federal judge John Kane denied Scientology’s request for summary judgment, saying that FACTNet successfully had cast doubt on the legal status of the documents. Kane’s decision sends the case to a full trial, which will be supervised by a court “special master” appointed to untangle the thorny copyright issues involved.

It’s not as if you can’t ever use your copyright to keep works out of circulation. You certainly can. Just try to find a clean copy of “Song of the South,” “Amos and Andy” or any of the frankly racist animations from Disney and Looney Tunes of days gone by. But you have to really own the copyrights. (Unrelated by related thoughts on copyright and suppression here.)

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Author:Ron Coleman

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3 Responses to “Scientology pushed back on copyright”

  1. RonS
    August 3, 2007 at 3:55 pm #

    Alas, in the end (1999), Scientology settled that battle rather than put it to the test:
    http://news.com.com/Scientologists+settle+legal+battle/2100-1023_3-223683.html

  2. November 13, 2009 at 12:15 pm #

    I’m just curious if anyone’s ever brought up the issue that — according to Scientology, anyway — much of what’s covered in the various books are straight-up facts.

    I recognize that works can report ostensible facts and still be subject to copyright… biographies, histories, etc. But the facts therein reported are not (and Xenu and the Hydrogen bombs was like, 75 million years ago, and so not exactly “hot news”)

    So to the extent that Scientologists claim that everything in the L Ron Hubbard books are facts, wouldn’t the copyright protection be thin. Or at least thin-ish?

    –B

    • November 16, 2009 at 12:15 am #

      You are right in theory, but I think in practice the critics and “apostates” print the precise contents of these works, probably reasoning that their characterizations of them will hold less water than the real thing.

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